Why did you study Mathematics at University?
I never actually set out to study mathematics. I remember from my early school days having a deep interest in science, particular chemistry and physics. During these days I developed an appreciation of mathematics, a way of understanding that many issues can be broken down systematically, formulae applied and a solution obtained. This logic was an immeasurable help during my initial pilot training and continues to this day. I never claimed nor do I claim to have a particular aptitude for mathematics. I was not one to whom the subject came easy, but the love, appreciation and beauty of mathematics was always there.
As time moved on, it became clearer that mathematics was the subject I should conclude my studies with. It was not a particularly difficult choice but a lot had to do with the level of professionalism and friendliness of the Department staff. I feel today, as I did then, that to study mathematics would give me a solid core, a foundation upon which further development in virtually any scientific or engineering field could be built. As a pilot, I am medically scrutinized annually and every 6 months after the age of 40, I have to renew my licence every 12 months and pass assessments of non-normal operations and degraded weather every 6 months. I was always conscious that should any unforeseen issue arise that would inhibit my ability to secure my Class One medical, I could call upon my experience in mathematics and begin anew.
Describe what you do now and how mathematics is useful to you.
Today I am a pilot with a major UK holiday charter company. I operate the short/medium haul aircraft, Boeing 737-800. In this profession, there exists a strict adherence to operating procedures, interpretation of problems and execution of remedial actions. Suffice to say, there still exists the human element in command of a commercial aircraft. For example we understand the need to carry a little more fuel when poor weather is forecast. How much more depends on several factors: is there a more suitable alternative route, can we climb above the weather, can we fly around the weather, can we physically fit more fuel on given the high passenger load, will the aircraft be overweight on landing, are there any outstanding technical issues that might impact on our operation?
Although abstract mathematics, for me, remained in the lecture halls at Maynooth University upon my departure, applied mathematics tend to be called for in my job. This is generally confined to relatively simple calculations, but what I learned more than anything is the discipline and the need to be thorough.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of doing a degree in Mathematics?
I would have to congratulate them on their selection and I would hope that they would seriously consider what doors could be opened upon their graduation. Some might consider a university mathematics department as a deafeningly quiet, dusty, blackboard laden place with a labyrinth of corridors and book filled rooms with professors hunched over desks heaving with papers. Nothing could be further from the truth. The staff of the Maynooth University Mathematics Department, the facilities and the open and hospitable nature of studying here makes it an excellent choice. The short answer I would give: GO FOR IT!
Would you recommend that people study Maths in Maynooth?
As I have touched on above, I found my time at Maynooth University an extremely rewarding one. I have developed many wonderful relationships and recall my time here fondly. As a matter of fact, the Groomsman at my wedding in 2009 is a man I met on the first day of registration in 1998. I come from a village near Maynooth so logistically, it was a God-send. But I have had the pleasure on more than one occasion of staying in Maynooth with friends and indulging in the colourful social scene that exists here. Maynooth University was a great place, it continues to be and seems to cater for an ever-growing number of students every year, offering more and more courses. Suffice to say, I firmly believe that I am where I am today because of the experiences, relationships and moreover the education I received at Maynooth University. If you attend here, I promise you will not be disappointed. You will grow. You will learn. But most of all, you'll have the time of your life doing
Best of luck!